Melbourne Renegades coach Andrew McDonald has cautioned against expecting too much, too early from returning quick James Pattinson.
Barring a late mishap, the luckless paceman will line up for the Renegades in their season-opening clash with reigning KEF Big Bash League champions Sydney Thunder at Etihad Stadium on December 22.
Pattinson didn't feature for the Renegades last season and hasn't played first-class cricket since February after he broke down with back and shin injuries in the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.
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The 26-year-old came back into national side calculations after overcoming another long-term back injury late in 2014 with a fiery three-wicket opening spell for the 'Gades against the Thunder at the same venue.
But McDonald moved to temper expectations of a similar outcome this time around.
"I think with James it's really one step at a time," McDonald told AAP.
"It's going to be great having him fit and firing for the opening game, but then like any fast bowler, it's game to game for him from there with where he's been at.
"We're really excited to have him returning, but we're not looking too far ahead. It will be a long road but we're hoping we've got him for the majority of the season."
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Pattinson has slowly built up match fitness with Victorian Premier Cricket side Dandenong, claiming seven wickets from 36 overs, and even smashed a T20 century - belting 137 runs from 62 balls.
The news is not quite as good for fellow Renegades seamer Peter Siddle, who is still on the comeback trail from the back complaint he aggravated in the first Test against South Africa in November.
"He looks as though he's not going to be available pre-Christmas," McDonald said.
"He had that flare up there with his back but it's not as severe as probably first thought.
"He's ticking over and he won't be too far off, but we'll have to wait and see on him."
McDonald won the Renegades job after David Saker departed for an assistant coach role with the national team in July.
He will be attempting to guide them to the BBL finals for just the second time in six seasons.